Nov. 18, 2005
QUEENS, N.Y. - Steven Old (Palmerston North, New Zealand) broke a 1-1 tie with a penalty kick score in the 63rd minute, and the St. John's offense peppered the Marist goal with a season-high 26 shots, as the Red Storm beat Marist 3-1 in NCAA Tournament first round play at Belson Stadium on Friday night. A raucous crowd of 1,012 came out to support St. John's in its 14th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and will get the opportunity to do so again on Tuesday at 5 p.m. when the Red Storm hosts Dartmouth in the second round.
After a scoreless first half, Billy Hole (East Islip, N.Y.) took a pass into space from Garry Lewis (Orange Park, Fla.) and broke through the Marist box for a one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Daniel Owens. Hole touched once and finished with a low ball inside the near post for his second goal of the season.
Marist equalized just over five minutes later when Anthony Graci struck from 25 yards out. A collision at midfield left a loose ball, which Graci ran on to with numbers on the counter-attack. Graci found some space in the middle of the Red Storm zone and let loose with a perfectly placed shot inside the upper right corner.
The St. John's offense responded well after the equalizing goal and put instant pressure on the Red Fox backline. Lewis was again involved, as he got an advantage in the top of the Marist box and was taken down by defender Steve Fantuzzo. Fantuzzo was whistled for the foul, and a penalty kick was awarded to St. John's. Old converted with a powerful shot that beat Owens to his left, as St. John's went up by a 2-1 margin.
Matt Groenwald (Mt. Prospect, Ill.) put the game out of reach in the 75th minute with his sixth goal of the season and 15th of his career. Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph (Stockholm, Sweden) built on a career-high assist total with his fifth of the season, as he found Groenwald with a pass to the edge of Marist's goal box. Groenwald got separation with a touch to his right and fired back across the grain to beat Owens with a low ball to the far post.
Groenwald, Andre Schmid (Sacramento, Calif.) and Hole led St. John's with four shots apiece, as the Red Storm put 11 of its season-high 26 shots on net. Owens turned away five shots for Marist, and Robert Van Dyke and Tomislav Rogic each made defensive saves to prevent further damage.
Groenwald's four shots pushed his career total to an even 150, and he is now one shot away from breaking the St. John's career top 10 list. Walter Kraker (1987-90) currently has the 10th highest total with 151. Lewis put one of two shots on goal and recorded his second assist and 10th point of the season. Lewis has taken two or more shots in 11 games and has scored points in six of them, including a pair of postseason games and three games against ranked teams.
In a twist, St. John's will be back at Belson Stadium on Tuesday at 5 p.m., hosting No. 16 seed Dartmouth. Dartmouth earned a first-round bye and the right to host a second-round game, but did not opt to hold the game on its home field. So the game will be played at Belson, a venue on which St. John's is 6-1-2 this season and 26-3-7 all-time.
All four of the BIG EAST's record seven NCAA Tournament teams in action tonight moved on to the second round, with West Virginia and Seton Hall still to play first-round games tomorrow. Conference Tournament winner, No. 2 Connecticut, earned a bye with the No. 8 overall seed. Notre Dame, Providence and South Florida each moved on in their respective brackets tonight.